Our Top 10 Posts of 2014

I see other bloggers do these kinds of posts at the end of the year each year and now I can finally do one! 😀 This was really fun to put together. To see all our site stats for the year and reflect on how far we have come! We have people going to our website every-single-day now. It took a while (and a lot of work) to get here. The year started out with some pretty good posts going out. This was while I was still working too. Then I was home full-time starting June 1st. I wanted to have more time to take care of myself and my family, and work more on the blog. Well, things went bad. Our website crashed, and after we worked hard to fix some of the damage and get back up and running, my laptop crashed. I thought I lost everything, until my husband was able to recover most of my files. I was close to giving up but didn’t. I kept plugging along, trying to do at least 1 post a week, sometimes 2. I love doing this and will keep trying! 🙂

Top 10 Posts of 2014

 

Highlights from the Year:

  • We started our first real organic garden and had a crazy amount of zucchini. 17 small zucchinis and 8 big ones! I may have even missed a few when trying to keep count. We grew our own pumpkins and I made pumpkin puree.
  • We went on our first camping trip since eating all organic foods, and since I was diagnosed with Fibro.
  • I participated in a couple blogging webinars and learned so much! I got great feedback from a big-time blogger on what we can do to improve our site.
  • I was chosen to be a cookbook ambassador for the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook, and the Deliciously Organic Grain-Free Family Table cookbook. I received a copy of each cookbook and posted my review.
  • I started making all of my daughter’s school lunches. Every.single.day. And we came up with some good stuff!
  • Some people have reached out to us through our page with questions or to tell their story. There have been really nice compliments about our site like “I am really loving this page!” “Thanks for all you do.” “Your last post spoke personally to me…..Thank you for posting that.” I love to hear the stories, answer questions, and the compliments of course. 😉
  • I made good friends with another food blogger! She has helped me tremendously and is a great mentor. She also got me to use my bread machine that had been sitting in a cupboard for 10 years! I now make homemade bread every week. 🙂
  • We had a crazy # of views on a post at the end of this year. I was in complete shock… It’s #1 listed below.

 

And now for the countdown of our Top 10 Posts of 2014!

#10 – Chocolate Avocado Pudding

My son LOVES this pudding. My daughter is not too sure about it. She wants to like it. But she has always gone towards foods that are much sweeter and probably wouldn’t be happy unless it was a sugary chocolate pudding.

chocolate avocado pudding

 

#9 – Natural Ways to Boost Immunity & Heal

We hardly ever get sick, and when we do it usually isn’t for very long. This post includes what we do to prevent getting sick, and what we do to treat illness when we do get sick. And why we no longer get the flu shot!

natural healing

 

#8 – Cookbook Review: 100 Days of Real Food

I was chosen to be a cookbook ambassador for the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook! This is my review, and also a story about being chosen.

Cookbook Review

 

#7 – The Lunch Rotation

This was my first post on lunches I made for my daughter. We usually rotated between the lunches listed in the post but she was also having school lunch sometimes until Fall of this year. Then we started making her lunch every day. She no longer has school lunch except for the Thanksgiving feast and the BBQ lunch in the Spring.

boiled egg & saladmeat, cheese, crackerspeanut butter & honey sandwich, Annie's bunny crackers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6 – Party Appetizers

I created this post last year for New Year’s Eve appetizer ideas. Of course these appetizers can be used anytime throughout the year. I’m making the jalapeño poppers and some deviled eggs for tonight!

bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeños

 

#5 – My Daughter – Dental Problems, Behavioral Problems, & Seizures

This is my daughter’s story about her dental problems, behavioral problems, and the seizures she has had. She hasn’t had one since July and I hope we keep it that way! After the seizure in July, she received a diagnoses. That’s included in the post. She is supposed to outgrow these and doesn’t have to be on meds! 🙂

Kailey at 9 months, 1 1/2 years, and 3 1/2 years

 

#4 – My Fibro Story – 9 Months of Trying to Feel Like Me

This is my personal story on being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and what I think may have caused this to come on.

My Fibro Story

 

#3 – Daily Tips for Surviving Fibromyalgia

What I try to do on a daily basis to survive Fibro. Sometimes it’s on a weekly basis but we just have to try our best. Do what we can, when we can.

Daily Tips for Surviving Fibromyalgia

 

#2 – How I Lost 30 Pounds

I couldn’t believe the way the weight was shedding off after we changed our diet. My clothes were getting looser and looser. I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I just wanted to feel better. And I did, with also losing weight in the process. I know everyone is different but this is what I did that caused the weight-loss.

before and after

 

And now for the #1 spot of the most views we have ever had on our website…. 

#1 – Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

This post had 533 views! Most are from Christmas Eve. I was in shock…

Surviving Holidays with chronic illness

 

There you go! Our highlights and top posts of 2014. For 2015, what would you guys like to see? What kind of posts or recipes? What improvements should we make to our site? Any feedback is much appreciated. Please leave a comment below on anything we should change or add. Or if you just want to let us know how we are doing, that would be great too. Happy New Year!!! 😀 

Guacamole Dip

I used to be one of those people that didn’t like guacamole, or avocados at all. If it had the green stuff, I wasn’t touching it. I never really gave it a chance. It just looked gross. After we started eating organic/healthier foods, my taste buds changed for sure. I started trying things that I hadn’t tried in so long and it all tasted so good! Two things I still do not like for sure are mushrooms and fish. I do like clams, baby shrimp, lobster, crab, and smoked salmon is pretty good. And my husband likes tuna fish. Other than that we are not really seafood people. I know that’s weird living in WA. And it took me a long time to start liking crab and smoked salmon. As for the mushrooms, we don’t mind cream of mushroom soup as long as the mushrooms are chopped small. Okay, I have really gotten off topic here. 😉 So it is just estimated amounts in this recipe. Just taste and add more if you need to. I never really measure. Guacamole is good on a burger or in a burrito too. When I use it as a dip, I buy organic tortilla chips and I usually try to get gluten-free. This would be a great New Year’s Eve appetizer! I would double the recipe though. 🙂

guacamole dip

 

Guacamole Dip
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder (or 1 TB chopped white/yellow onion or red onion)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 TB chopped cilantro
  • 2 small tomatoes-chopped
  • a few squirts of lime juice
  • salt & pepper (sprinkle desired amount)
Directions
  1. Mash up the avocados first. Cut around the avocado lengthwise and they usually peel apart easily. Then you can scoop out the seed and scoop everything out. And I found it easier to scoop if they are at room temperature (they should be kept at room temperature anyway unless they are ripe and you don’t want them to ripen more). I use a potato masher to mash up the avocados.
  2. Then add all the other ingredients and stir it up.

 

A Healthier Frozen-Themed Birthday Party

We usually have to worry about snow on my daughter’s birthday because there have been several years where it snowed and people couldn’t make it to the party. This year, we had to worry about a power outage! It was only out for about 24 hours or so but it felt like forever. Much better than our week-long-adventure without power though! So a December birthday… perfect for a Frozen-themed birthday party! In case you don’t know what Frozen is, it’s a very cute Disney movie that just about every girl is obsessed with (my daughter included). Fair warning, once they watch the movie the songs will be sung numerous times and stuck in your head for days, months, years! 😉 Anyway, I started researching Frozen-themed party foods. Of course most of it was dye-filled to match the blue colors from the movie. I continued to research and started looking up winter-themed parties too to get as many healthy ideas as I could.

Here’s what I came up with (below). For full disclosure, I ended up ordering a regular cake because our power was out. Wow, I realized I used to have it pretty easy when I just ordered a cake or cupcakes and went to pick it up! Oh well, definitely wouldn’t want to go back to eating the way we used to even though it’s more work now. I decided to make the cupcakes later on that week since I already bought all the stuff anyway. So, why not experiment with making blue frosting since I had the time and wasn’t preparing them for a party?? Too bad it didn’t turn out. 🙁 I wasn’t going to experiment before a birthday party. There’s enough stress and pressure to get everything just right. I get a lot of anxiety before my kids’ parties. I want them to have great parties but with Fibro it is very difficult. I try my best and that’s all I can do! This year I decided to let Kailey pick one friend outside of our usual group of family/friends that go to all the parties. She picked a friend from school. So then I had a little more stress of making it a good party for her friend and parents. I have met her friend many times but not the parents. We are skeptical about letting Kailey stay the night with friends because she has had several seizures during her sleep. She could have a play date but it just hasn’t come up.

Frozen Party

 

Snacks
We made the cards to label the food using old cards that I had (they just had birds on the other side), paper that was cut using special crinkle-cut scissors, a blue marker, and Frozen Stickers. And we made them by candle light during our power outage, haha.

Olaf Noses (carrots with ranch dip)
IMG_5544

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olaf Cheese Sticks (cheese sticks with Olaf faces drawn using black pen, black marker, and orange marker)
cheese sticks with olaf the snowman drawn onIMG_5546

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Hearts (yogurt covered pretzels)
IMG_5540

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sven & his friends (crackers covered with peanut butter, a pretzel for the antlers, raisins for eyes & a chocolate chip for the nose)
IMG_5547IMG_5548

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowballs (popcorn)
IMG_5541

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reindeer Snacks (yogurt covered raisins) – I wanted to label this ‘snow-covered reindeer poo’ but my daughter wasn’t going for it, lol.
IMG_5543

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melted Snow to drink (water bottles)
IMG_5542

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other ideas: Snowman Parts (marshmallows for the body, pretzel sticks for the arms, raisins for the eyes, tiny pieces of carrot for the nose, etc. Marshmallows aren’t really healthy but you could get these that are better: Dandies Marshmallows) – they could be put together in baggies labeled ‘snowman parts’ or laid out on the table for everyone to build, Homemade Sugar Cookies Shaped like Snowflakes (with or without homemade frosting), Yogurt Covered Strawberries (frozen hearts), Snowflake or Snowman Shaped Sandwiches, Broccoli with Ranch Dip for Snow-Covered Trees (or use cauliflower), Pretzels (Sven antlers), Banana Snowmen (banana slices on a stick with pretzel sticks for the arms, raisins for the eyes, tiny pieces of carrot for the nose, Crackers with Snowflake Shaped Cheese (just use a Snowflake Cookie Cutter for the cheese), Lemonade (Olaf in Summer), Snowman Shaped Melon (just use a Snowman Cookie Cutter), and there’s many more ideas out there.

 

IMG_5686Cupcakes

Funny story about the cupcakes. So I planned on making yellow cupcakes with pink frosting (because I didn’t want to experiment with blue before the party), and then our power went out. I just went in to a nearby grocery store and ordered a cake. Not what I would normally do these days. Well since I already bought all the stuff to make the cupcakes, I decided to make them a few days after our power came back on. But I wanted to experiment with making blue naturally colored frosting. The blue didn’t turn out. It turned out an ugly purple tint! I think it really could have worked, I just need to do some more experimenting. The cupcakes turned out though and were really good! My family says they are similar to cornbread but I don’t think so. They are more like a cupcake to me. Definitely sweeter than the cornbread I make! And everybody still loved it and gobbled them down. To make the cupcakes, I used this recipe but skipped the step on separating the eggs and just put them in whole, beating in one at a time. I also sifted the flour. I was really hoping to have successfully made this and have a picture to show but unfortunately I was following a different recipe that was missing one of the steps in the blue coloring. So mine didn’t turn out. If I am successful one of these days then I will post a picture here and share the info. So for now, it’s just a picture of the cupcakes. 🙁 And I usually tape stickers to toothpicks for the cupcake toppers but you could also do Rings. Or a cake topper if you are making a cake. You can also do just white frosting! That would totally work for this kind of party.

And here’s the inside of the cupcake: 
IMG_5625

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5539

 

Decorations

There are Frozen-themed party supplies at different stores like Toys ‘R Us, Target, etc. You can make paper snowflakes to hang. My daughter wore her Anna dress from Halloween and brought some of her frozen toys to setup. You can make labels for all the food. Blue and white balloons would work great. Or here’s some items to purchase:

 

 

Games

There are many games you could play but we were at a bowling alley, so bowling was part of the party and I decided not to do games. Ideas: ‘Let it Go’ snowball toss (toss cotton balls into a bucket or bowl on the table), ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ (pin the snowman parts on the snowman, or pin the nose on Olaf, like pin the tail on the donkey), and many more. Here’s some ideas:

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Organic Fibro Mommies will earn a small commission (which helps to offset web hosting fees, maintenance, etc.). Your support is greatly appreciated!

Easy Dairy-Free Fudge

I made this fudge last year and it turned out so good! You would never know it was coconut milk and not regular milk. And the only reason I used coconut milk is because I had a can of it and needed to use it for something. The recipe is derived from The Detoxinista. I used regular dark chocolate chips though that are not dairy-free but I’m including the dairy-free chocolate chips in the recipe. So you could use either kind. (See a link below for dairy-free chocolate chips.) And you can make it refined-sugar-free fudge by using unsweetened chocolate, and increasing the amount of honey when making the sweetened condensed coconut milk.

easy dairy free fudge

 

Easy Dairy-Free Fudge
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed coconut milk (1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk, ¼ cup raw honey)
  • 2 TB coconut oil
  • 12 oz chocolate chips (regular or dairy-free, see link below)
  • Optional: 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans
Directions
  1. To make the sweetened condensed coconut milk, pour the can of coconut milk into a small pan and heat over medium-high heat until boiling, about 5 min. Watch closely so it doesn't bubble over, and whisk regularly. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, add the honey, whisking until it's dissolved. Allow to simmer for 30-45 min, or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely if storing in the fridge. (This should last a week when stored in a sealed container in the fridge.)
  2. In the same saucepan, melt together ½ cup of the condensed coconut milk, chocolate chips, and coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Pour into an 8 x 8 baking dish, lined with parchment paper for easy removal. (Sprinkle in the nuts at this time, if desired.)
  4. Place the dish in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
  5. Slice and serve chilled for best texture.

coconut milk

 

Tip: If you want to make coconut milk using coconut cream, heat 2 TB of coconut cream per 3/4 cup of water in a pan and stir until dissolved. Increase the amount until you get to at least 14 oz for the recipe above. I made a lot and put some in a mason jar in the fridge to use for smoothies. It should last up to 4 days in the fridge.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Organic Fibro Mommies will earn a small commission (which helps to offset web hosting fees, maintenance, etc.). Your support is greatly appreciated!

How We Survived a Week Without Electricity

Okay so obviously we can survive without electricity, but these days we rely SO much on it that when it’s gone we kind-of go into a panic-mode. We are having a storm tonight and everyone is kind-of freaking out about it and we will most likely lose power. When we lost power for a week before, I didn’t have a smart phone, didn’t have a blog, wasn’t eating all organic foods mostly from scratch, and I was working full-time. So there were different challenges then, and there would definitely be different challenges now. We thought about getting a generator after that week-long-adventure, but still haven’t gotten one. I think we should! Even just to be able to plug-in the fridge. And sorry, this post really doesn’t have much to do with organic food or Fibromyalgia but I just wanted to tell our story and give some tips on preparing for a storm. 😉

So here’s the story. In January 2012, our area (Olympia, WA) had a Snow Storm/Ice Storm. It started with the snow. 22 inches to be exact! (See a picture below – I wish I would have gotten better pictures.) We don’t ever get snow like that. It just seemed like it kept coming and coming. At first we were excited. Then we were shocked. Then we were scared, lol. Then we got hit with freezing rain and everything was covered in ice (another picture below – sorry, not the greatest picture). This caused major problems like downed trees, huge branches falling, and downed power lines, among other problems. There were blocked roads, power outages, damage to homes, etc. A huge branch fell on our back deck and knocked out 1 of our railings. Luckily it was the railing that was already broke. I didn’t let the kids play outside after the ice storm hit because it was just too dangerous with branches falling, huge chunks of snow/ice falling, and power lines could snap at any moment. And just from the snow, the ambulance, firetrucks, mailman, and garbage trucks couldn’t get into our neighborhood for a while. We lost power right away and it was out for a week. I missed work most of that week. We were washing clothes and doing dishes by hand, used a neighbor’s shower because they had gas to heat their water tank, cooked off our wood stove, and used snow in coolers to keep our food cold. My mother-in-law was with us at the time and helped tremendously. It was amazing how many neighbors around us left to go stay with family or go to a hotel. We stayed home and got through it together. We are also lucky to have a wood stove we can cook on and keep warm.

Power Outage

1 week without power doesn’t sound very long, but it felt SO long to us. And we weren’t really prepared. We only had a small amount of supplies. Plus we didn’t know when the power was going to be back on. Our neighborhood was one of the last to get power back. And then even when it did, only part of the neighborhood was turned back on. We were still waiting. I hope we don’t have to go through that again but if we do, I know we will be okay. I think the challenges back then were when I had to go back to work. It was dark when I got home and having to try to look decent for work when you can’t just take a shower easily or wash your clothes easily, or even see very good to get yourself ready made things very difficult. If we lost power for a long period of time now, there would be different challenges. I am home now, so I wouldn’t have to worry about going to work, but we don’t eat a lot of ‘convenience’ type foods anymore. Sure I can throw together a pot of stew or soup easily and stick it on the wood stove to cook, but I can’t make my bread easily, or other things I make, and we wouldn’t be able to make smoothies or use the juicer. And I don’t think organic food would last as long as the other stuff. Our food would go bad quicker for sure. And obviously my husband and I couldn’t do our work on our computers like we are normally doing. Everything would be on hold.

22 inches of snow

The Food
We started with the items in the fridge. When the fridge was no longer cold, we transferred the items to the coolers filled with snow outside. We were trying to scrap things together to make meals and cook on the wood stove. Then when the items in the freezer were thawed, we transferred those to the coolers too. It got to the point where we had to start cooking all the meat so it didn’t go bad and used the BBQ to cook it. We tried to make meals and make things stretch as much as we could, without them going bad. We were not eating organic at the time but did try to eat at home as much as possible. Especially since it was really hard to get around anyway with all that snow and roads blocked. I remember when we did finally get out and it felt so good to go into a store and buy a bunch of junk that we could just eat. We also had to buy more batteries and other essentials.

Staying Warm
We had a lot of blankets, and a wood stove. We slept in the living room some nights because the heat doesn’t go back to the bedrooms very much. We did get low on wood at one point and drove to my grandma’s house to get more (and took showers while we were there!). They were lucky and got their power back on pretty quick.

“Cleanliness”
To get warm water, we had to heat up a big pot of water on the wood stove. We did that to wash some clothes in the bath tub, wash dishes (the hard-to-clean-ones), or take a little ‘sponge bath’. And washed our hair in cold water sometimes. We also went to a neighbor’s house and used their shower once because they had gas heat to heat their water tank. And we took a shower at my grandma’s when we went there to get wood. The hardest part was when I had to go back to work and the power STILL wasn’t on. I felt so dirty and it was hard to come home to a dark house and try to find everything, and figure out what to wear to work. I didn’t worry much about keeping the house clean. The floor was very dirty, and there was stuff everywhere. It was easier to clean when I was home and it was light during the day. But when I was working and coming home to darkness, even with candles & flashlights, it was just too difficult to keep everything clean.

Keeping Our Sanity
We played games, we listened to the battery operated radio, we played in the snow, we just hung out and talked. I wrote in my journal a lot. It was really nice at first! Then we started getting bored and tired of the darkness. Each day the power wasn’t back on we kept wondering how much longer we were going to have to live like this. It seriously took a tole on us. We can live without electricity but our lives would definitely have to change to adapt to it. Think about the amish! Everything was more of a challenge, but doable. We were even potty-training by candlelight! haha.

Ice Storm

*Tips on Preparing For a Storm*

1. Make sure you have supplies on hand ahead of time, like way ahead of time. When a big storm is coming people panic and raid the stores. In fact, you should keep a good amount of supplies on hand at all times just in case. Things like batteries, a battery-operated radio, candles, flashlights, lots of extra-warm blankets, any medicinal items (prescription medicines, first aid kits, etc.), a manual can-opener. Nice-to-have items like games, a generator, lots of things for the kids to do. Keeping a little cash on hand would be good too in case the power is out and stores cannot take your debit/credit cards. And make sure you have plenty of food/supplies for your pets too!

2. Use the electricity for everything you need before a possible power outage. Run your washer and dryer, dishwasher, take showers, and charge phones (especially if your cell phone is your only phone in the house).

3. Clean up and organize the house as much as possible. This is important because it will be hard to find things and get around when it’s dark. Candlelight and flashlights only provide so much light.

4. Stock up/Collect water. If your water doesn’t work when the power is out, then you will need to prepare for that as well. We are fortunate and have running water still, even though it’s cold water. You may want to collect rain water in buckets even just to be able to flush the toilet. You wouldn’t want to drink it, so make sure to have drinking water stocked up ahead of time. You could fill juice containers/milk jugs with water out of the sink ahead of time too. If you have a wood stove you can heat water to be able to bathe in, wash clothes, or do those hard-to-clean dishes.

5. Fill up the vehicles/gas cans. When people panic and raid the stores, they also line up at the pumps. You will want to be prepared ahead of time and make sure your vehicles are filled up and maybe a gas can or two, just in case.

6. Stock up on food, but be careful with the perishable items. Make sure you have plenty of food in the house because you won’t know how long the storm will last and what’s all involved. In our case, we had blocked roads and 22 inches of snow to get through if we needed to go to town. You will want to be careful on what you buy though. Some people lost freezers-full of food in the storm we had. It would be horrible for that much food to go to waste. So even though fresh organic food is nice, it will be a little different when preparing for a storm. I would make sure you have foods that don’t go bad quickly. Canned foods, rice, packaged non-perishable items. A little of the perishable stuff is okay, you can just eat that first.

7. Have an Emergency Plan in place. Know what to do to prepare if a storm is going to hit, if the family is separated during the storm, and what to do if something unexpected happens. We did not expect that much snow, or for the ice storm to be that bad. We weren’t prepared for road blockage and a power outage for a week. We just have to think of these possibilities ahead of time and be ready.

8. Have trees trimmed/cut-down ahead of time. We had some dangerous trees around our house during this bad storm. HUGE branches would fall and break things like our railing, we lost a couple BBQs and a chair. We are lucky it wasn’t worse. There could have been damage to our roof or one of us could have gotten seriously hurt. Those trees have been cut down now.

Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

The holidays are so busy and crazy, and when you add Fibromyalgia to the mix it is just too much. The bright blinking lights, the noise, the crowds… And those posts going around on Facebook that tell you how many days are left until Christmas don’t help! That just brings on the anxiety. Well don’t listen to that at all and don’t panic. It will all get done. Believe me, I know it is a lot because I go from Thanksgiving, to my daughter’s birthday, to Christmas. I just tackle one thing at a time, keep lists, and stay organized. And anything I can get done ahead of time, I jump on it and just get it done. I am one of those people sending out their Christmas cards right after Thanksgiving. 😉 Don’t stress and just try to enjoy the holidays. 🙂

Surviving Holidays with chronic illness

 

Tips on Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness:

1. If you are hosting a party, ask everyone to bring something. That really cuts back on the amount of food you have to make.

2. Communicate. If you don’t feel good, say so. If you want to say ‘no’, do it. Your family/friends should understand and support you and if they don’t, it’s on them, not you. You have to do what you have to do for your health. And maybe tell them that you need to cancel for now but would like to do something at a time where you are feeling better. Ask for help if you need to! It’s OK.

3. Feeling depressed? Depression can hit hard during the holidays. It’s a battle with everything we do and we can’t win. We want to participate in everything but if we do, we pay for it. There are some natural remedies in this post: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/08/battling-depression/. And make sure to follow tip #2 above.

4. Focus on the happy fun times throughout the holidays and not all the work and stress. You don’t have to do everything that comes along. Pick and choose certain things and save others for next year.

5. Make a plan. You can plan out everything you want to do and how you will do it. A plan-of-action. For example, if you are going to someone’s house for a party, plan it out ahead of time. Bring anything you might need while you are there. You could talk to the host(s) ahead of time to let them know you might need a quiet place to go and rest for a bit. If you have a significant other or a friend with you then communicate with them and maybe you can have a signal to know that you aren’t feeling well and need to go sit in a quiet room or get yourself together in the bathroom for a minute, maybe splash some water on your face. Social gatherings can be exhausting. If you are hosting the party, make sure you have help. Your significant other or a friend can help clean and get things setup and be there during the party to help and give you an out if you aren’t feeling well. Maybe you can socialize when guests first arrive, go take a break, come back out and socialize some more. That way you are able to participate for the majority of the time.

6. Bring a dish to a party. Bring a side dish to the party that you know you can eat (healthy foods) so that you can eat some of that and a little of the other stuff. That should help so you aren’t feeling so icky after eating a bunch of foods you probably wouldn’t normally eat.

 

How to help someone with a chronic illness during the holidays: Be supportive. If they can’t attend something it’s not usually because they don’t want to. They probably want to really bad but their illness has taken over and it is best that they do what they need to for their health. The last thing they need is to feel guilty about it. Try to plan something with them another time, when they are feeling better. It doesn’t have to be during the holidays. And offer to help as much as you can, especially if they are the ones hosting a party. It may not be easy for them to ask for help but they may really need it and would appreciate the offer.

 

Holiday Checklist

Here’s a list of our holiday items and how I coordinate them. I know all families have different traditions or religious beliefs. This is just to show you how I get through the holidays and still make sure my kids can participate in some of the fun holiday activities. 🙂

1. Family Photo/Christmas Cards – We always try to have someone take a nice picture of our family on Thanksgiving. We are already dressed up and there’s someone around to take the picture. Works perfectly! (Or you can use a photo you like from earlier in the year.) Then I put our Christmas cards together, usually using Walmart’s online photo program but there are other ones like Walgreens and many more. I ordered 28 Christmas cards for about $12. You can have them shipped to you too. I like to get this done right after Thanksgiving and start getting them sent out.christmas tree with lights and a star(I also have to do my daughter’s birthday invitations at this time as well.)

2. Christmas Tree/Decorations and Christmas Music – We get our Christmas tree and start decorating after Thanksgiving. Well, we used to have a fake tree so we would just pull it out of the garage. But it’s nice just doing everything together when we are all in the spirit. And we listen to Christmas music while decorating. 🙂 Item #1 & #2, done right after Thanksgiving! Now there’s plenty of time (and energy!) for many other things.

3. Christmas Lights – Your local newspaper may post different neighborhoods that have amazing lights to go drive around and see. This is a great F R E E way to do it! And not much gas to get there. Or, in our area there are places you can drive and pay to see lights (Spanaway Lights, Zoo Lights). We do this sometimes, not every year. But we always at least drive around and see lights in different neighborhoods. It’s also fun to watch the ones on YouTube with the lights flashing to music. 😀

Santa picture4. Santa – visit, write, and/or call Santa. Now, of course you can go stand in the long lines at the mall to see Santa and pay an arm-an-a-leg for that picture, but we choose to just see Santa when we can. We saw him at the Christmas tree farm and got our free picture taken with our phone, and he came through our neighborhood on his sleigh collecting canned foods. The kids sat on his lap and we took another free picture. We have never gone to the mall. The thought of that gives me a lot of anxiety and I couldn’t imagine waiting forever and spending a ton of money on a picture. It’s already an expensive holiday! We did see him at Walmart one time and did pay to have a picture but it wasn’t very much. To call Santa, just dial (951) 262-3062.

5. Christmas Shopping/Wrapping – If you have kids this is definitely harder to do. You have to get a babysitter first, go get everything that you can during that timeframe, bring everything home and hide it or start wrapping. I do all my wrapping for other people’s presents when the kids are home. Just space it out if you can. And online shopping is so easy! You can avoid the crowds, wasting energy on the shopping trips, wasting gas driving around, having to get a babysitter, etc. And I do not do Black Friday shopping. No way…. lol. And I hate to sound like a salesman but if you want to use our link to do your shopping on Amazon it would really help us out! There’s no discount for you but it helps us offset the costs of blogging, and it’s so easy. You just click on the following link and start your shopping. We would really appreciate it! 🙂 OrganicFibroMommies-Amazon-Link. We also have an Amazon store if you want to check out our items: http://astore.amazon.com/orgafibrmomm-20.natural stocking stuffers

6. Stocking Stuffers – I start collecting stocking stuffers right away while I am shopping at different stores (Fred Meyer, our local food co-op, Trader Joe’s). I have found things like naturally flavored candy canes (no dyes), 100% pure maple syrup candies, chocolate coins, and holiday gummies. You can also put fruit in the stockings, homemade cookies (wrapped of course), and non-food items like stickers/tattoos, little toys, play-doh, Christmas-themed toys/pencils/stickers, etc., mini activity book/notepad, crayons/colored pencils, mini books, money, small stuffed animals, new socks, a rolled up new shirt, a jump rope, jewelry, matchbox cars, and so much more.
naturally colored christmas sugar cookies
7. Baking Cookies –
Maybe just plan to make 1 batch of cookies. Why do we have to make several batches of all these different kinds? Let the kids pick what kind they want to make each year, to make it extra special. Or you can make a batch in the beginning of the month and another before Christmas, space it out.
Trader Joe's Gingerbread House

8. Gingerbread House – I found this natural Gingerbread House at Trader Joe’s last year for like $8! Yes it has sugar but they use fruit/vegetable extracts for the coloring. I know the kids aren’t going to be eating the whole thing but it’s pretty cheap and makes me feel good about not buying the bad stuff. Whether or not we are eating it, we don’t want to support purchasing it either. (That’s just my opinion.) 😉

9. Christmas Movies – I keep a list of Christmas movies that we want to watch each year and find them on Netflix, On Demand, Amazon Prime Instant Video, regular cable (ABC Family has 25 days of Christmas!), or we own some of them. It’s just fun to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn, maybe some hot cocoa, and watch the classics. 🙂

10. Advent Calendar/Elf-on-the-shelf – We still don’t have an advent calendar because they are expensive but I have been watching for one that is reasonably priced. In the meantime, we just make a calendar on a piece of paper and check off the days. My daughter’s birthday is in December too so this helps them know when things are happening (and not bug mom & dad so much – well, mostly mom). 😉 And we don’t have an Elf on the shelf but after seeing the pictures I am tempted to get one! If there’s a good deal I might just do it. I bet dad would get in on the fun too and then I wouldn’t have to remember to do it everyday, haha.

11. The Nutcracker This year my daughter and I are going to see the Nutcracker! It’s her first time and I haven’t been since I was a kid. We can’t wait! This is not something we are doing every year but more of an at-least-once-during-her-childhood thing. And maybe we will go again when Tyler is older, if he’s interested in going.

xmas ornaments12. Make Ornaments – Last year we made ornaments using flour, salt, water, and coffee grounds. The coffee grounds made the ornaments brown so we could do bears. And then you can paint them too. And in this case, we just bought the cheap non-organic stuff. It was just a fun family activity we wanted to do and Grandma was here participating too. Maybe one day I will write up a post on how we made them. Here’s a recipe by MommyPotamus on making ornaments: http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-salt-dough-ornaments/.

Gingerbread Pancakes

Last year I experimented with different kinds of pancakes using organic ingredients. I made pumpkin, zucchini, apple cinnamon, regular, and gingerbread, to name a few. I think we started a new family tradition too, Gingerbread Pancakes on Christmas morning! 😀  You could even make Gingerbread Man shapes using a Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter (make sure it’s not a plastic one). Scroll down to see ours, although we didn’t use a cookie cutter and just made the shape on our own. I think a cookie cutter would be much better, haha.

gingerbread pancakes

Gingerbread Pancakes
 
Author:
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup milk
Directions
  1. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the bowl (or use a separate bowl) and add the egg, vanilla, molasses, and milk.
  3. Whisk up the wet ingredients in the middle, then start mixing up the wet and dry ingredients together just until combined (lumps are okay). If the batter is too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
  4. Grease your skillet and set to medium (I use coconut oil to grease it). Once it is heated, add a big spoonful of batter to each area on the skillet, depending on how big your skillet is and how big you want your pancakes.
  5. When bubbles form in the batter, you can flip them. Cook a couple more minutes, remove from the pan and repeat until all the batter is used up. Best served with real butter and 100% pure maple syrup, or raw honey.

You could make the pancakes into Gingerbread Man shapes.
We didn’t use a cookie cutter for this one but would be much prettier if we did. 😉  gingerbread man pancakes

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A Healthier Thanksgiving – Tips & Recipes

Last year we had our first organic Thanksgiving dinner. It was just our little family and my dad but I wanted to go all out and try to make all our favorite dishes using organic real food ingredients. Everything turned out great! I know organic foods are expensive and when you are trying to buy a complete Thanksgiving meal, it really adds up. While I do think organic is best, I want to share my 5 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving (without having to go completely organic): 

Healthier Thanksgiving Tips

 

Here are some recipes for healthier Thanksgiving appetizers, ideas for drinks, what we put on our turkey, recipes for side dishes, biscuits/rolls, and desserts. (Sorry if some of the pictures aren’t the best quality. Those were taken last year before I got better with my photography.) 😉 

 

healthier thanksgiving

 

appetizers

Appetizers

Make it simple with chips & dip, fruit/veggie tray, meat/cheese/cracker tray, and/or pickles & olives.
(I use organic tortilla chips, a refried bean & cheese dip, salsa (with or without sour cream), Late July crackers, uncured pepperoni. A guacamole and ranch dip recipe is listed below.)

Party Appetizers: http://organicfibromommies.com/2013/12/party-appetizers/.

guacamoleGuacamole: The recipe is included in the Party Appetizers link above, and I’m totally estimating on the amounts because I don’t really measure. But it was so good! 1 tsp garlic powder, salt & pepper (sprinkle desired amount), 1/2 tsp onion powder (or 1 TB chopped white/yellow onion or red onion), 1 TB chopped cilantro, 1/2 tsp cumin, a couple small tomatoes-chopped, 2 large avocados, a few squirts of lime juice. Mash up the avocados, then add all the other ingredients and stir it up.

Ranch Dip Recipe (by 100 Days of Real Food): http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/12/01/recipe-ranch-flavored-dip/.

Pumpkin Fluff Dessert Dip (by 100 Days of Real Food): http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/11/14/recipe-pumpkin-fluff-dessert-dip/.pomegranate

Pomegranate – great as an appetizer or it would be beautiful on a salad to serve with your Thanksgiving meal!
(Mama Natural’s video on how to open a pomegranate easily)

 

Drink Ideas

eggnogEggnog – Organic Valley has a tasty Eggnog (pictured on the right), if you can find it. We got it earlier in the month and since then it has been selling out so fast so we had to go with the Horizon brand which is good too but not AS good.

Sparkling CiderR.W. Knudsen has a good brand with all different flavors.

Kombucha – There is a little organic store by us that sells this but I’m sure you can find it other places like Whole Foods. Or, there are a lot of recipes out there to make it.

Wine – There are organic wines. I found a whole section at Fred Meyer.

 

turkey1The Turkey

We use butter, rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, garlic powder, salt an pepper as a turkey rub. We do not measure and it would depend on the size of your turkey anyway. (You can use the herbs that you like but we thought these were really good together.) Cook @ 325 degrees, 3 – 3 1/2 hours for a 12-14 lb turkey. (Increase or decrease the time by an hour for a bigger or smaller turkey.) Of course you will want to temp it to determine if it’s done, and baste the turkey along the way (it’s all about that baste, ’bout that baste…. sorry, got a little crazy there). 😉 After the turkey is done it will need to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. While it’s resting start cooking other foods that need to cook in the oven. Usually green bean casserole, then the stuffing, then the rolls. Any pies should be baked ahead of time, unless you’re lucky enough to have more than one oven of course.

 

Mashed Potatoes & Turkey Gravy

Here’s my cheesy garlic mashed potato recipe that you can do with or without the cheese and sour cream (I would double the recipe for a larger crowd): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/01/cheesy-garlic-mashed-potatoes/.
turkey gravy in a pan

For the gravy:
Use the turkey juice after the turkey is done, pour into a large saucepan and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Turn up the heat to medium-high and after it starts to bubble, whisk in 1/2 cup of flour. Just keep whisking until you get the right consistency. (Some people like to separate the fat out of the pan drippings and cook the fat in the pan with the flour, then add the broth. This is just extra work to me so I skip that step. It is kind-of hard to get the flour clumps to mix up but it works.)

 

green bean casserole

Greenbean Casserole

12 oz. organic cream of mushroom soup, ¾ cup milk, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 1 clove minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder), 2 – 9 oz. packages frozen green beans thawed, and 1 1/3 cups fried onions (plus extra for topping – I found some at Trader Joe’s or there’s a recipe to make them by 100 Days of Real Food). In a 2 1/2 QT casserole dish, mix soup and milk. Then add pepper and garlic. Mix thoroughly. Add green beans and fried onions. You can have this ready in the fridge until after you pull the turkey out to rest, and that will give the green beans time to thaw. Bake at 350 for 30 min. Stir, top with remaining fried onions and bake another 5 min.

 

stuffing

Stuffing

10 oz bag of organic herbed bread cubes, 1 ½ cups of chicken broth, 1/3 cup of butter, 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped celery, ½ to 1 lb of ground sausage. Brown sausage in small chunks (drain if needed). Then add celery and onion to sauté. Bring broth and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat and add bread cubes, mix thoroughly. Cover, let stand for 5 min. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, add bread cubes and sausage/celery/onion mixture. Mix thoroughly and bake at 350 for 10 min to develop a golden crust. (You can pop this in the oven after you pull out the green bean casserole.)

 

biscuitsBiscuits/Rolls

You could make biscuits/rolls ahead of time and then just warm them up after the turkey is done and resting. Real Fit Real Food Mom’s sandwich buns would work great as rolls. Or my Easy Drop Biscuit recipe. I haven’t posted it to the blog yet but the recipe is:

Easy Drop Biscuits:
*Makes about 18 biscuits (depending on the size)

2 cups flour, 1 TB baking powder, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp thyme (or parsley), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, rosemary (optional), 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup milk (I use organic whole)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, garlic powder, and thyme/rosemary. (I put the rosemary as optional because my kids don’t like the stick-like texture of the rosemary in their biscuits, but I like the flavor. So it’s up to you. Still good without it.) Stir in the melted butter and milk just until moistened. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (I use coconut oil) and we also add a little flour to cover the pan. Just kind-of bat the pan to get the flour completely covered. This seems to be the best way for the biscuits not to stick. Drop batter on the cookie sheet by the tablespoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until golden on the edges.

 

Thanksgiving Desserts

Desserts

Fruit Salad: Add the different kinds of fruit you want (canned or fresh), chopped. We usually use satsuma oranges, grapes, pears, pineapple, cherries – basically the fruit cocktail fruits. And maybe some apples would be good in it. Add whip cream (see homemade recipe below). You can also add shredded coconut if you want. We don’t measure, we just basically take half of the whip cream that we make and add to a large bowl with different kinds of fruit. Then use the other half of the whip cream for the pie. For a healthier fruit salad, I like this recipe from My Whole Food Life.

Blackberry Cobbler Recipe (you can do other kinds of fruit too): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/08/blackberry-cobbler/.

Pumpkin Pie (my Easy Homemade Pumpkin Pie): http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/11/easy-homemade-pumpkin-pie/. 

For Whip Cream we use this recipe: http://www.organicvalley.coop/recipes/show/whipped-cream/ (of course, you can reduce the amount of sugar).

 

turkey brothWhat To Do with Leftover Turkey & Making Turkey Broth/Turkey Noodle Soup:

When Thanksgiving is over, why not make your own broth using the turkey bones?? You can follow my recipe for making homemade chicken broth. I recommend doing two separate batches because the turkey carcass is so large. You could separate all the bones and split them up between two batches, or freeze half the bones to make more broth at a later time.

Uses for Leftover Turkey: Just use the same ideas in the following post on uses for leftover chicken –http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/09/whole-chicken-crockpot-homemade-broth/.

Turkey Noodle Soup: Use my chicken noodle soup recipe and just substitute the chicken for turkey.

If you have any leftover pumpkin puree left when everything is all over, here are my pumpkin recipes: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/10/pumpkin-recipes/.

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Pie

I have made pumpkin pie before but I would usually just buy a pie crust already made, and use that can of Libby’s pumpkin and Carnation evaporated milk. Last year I made a pie crust from scratch but had to roll out the dough. Which is fine but I personally would rather not roll out the dough if I don’t have to. Guess what? You don’t have to. This way is so easy! You just mix up the ingredients in the pie dish, form the dough, and press the dough all around the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Then you just have to mix up your filling ingredients in a bowl, pour into the crust, and bake in the oven. So easy and so good. This year I am using my homemade pumpkin puree for the pie. Some of it is a little stringy but it works just fine.

easy homemade pumpkin pie

 

easy pie crust
The Crust:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 TB unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 TB coconut oil

Mix ingredients into a 9″ pie plate and stir until a dough forms. Then press the dough evenly throughout the bottom of the pie plate, and up the sides. Chill in the fridge until the filling is ready and oven is preheated. (Note: You can make it without the coconut oil if needed.) See step-by-step instructions below with pictures.

 

The Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream – see a picture of what I use below (you can use a 12 oz can of evaporated milk instead, and I heard you can use half & half or whole milk but I haven’t tried those yet)
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup sugar (or raw honey can be used but it will come out very moist)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the crust. You can put foil over the edges of the crust or brush with water so it doesn’t burn. I haven’t tried the foil trick but brushing the edges of the crust with water did work. Bake at 425 for 15 min, then change to 350 for 45 min. A knife inserted should come out clean. Cool for 2 hours. See step-by-step instructions below with pictures.

Tip: You can use 1 TB pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

For Whip Cream we use this recipe and Organic Valley Whipping Cream shown below:
http://www.organicvalley.coop/recipes/show/whipped-cream/ (of course, you can reduce the amount of sugar). 

Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream (just 1 ingredient – cream)heavy whipping cream

 

Making the Crust

Mix up the ingredients in your pie dish:IMG_4960

 

Form the dough:IMG_4961

 

Push the dough throughout the pie dish and up the sides.
I use my measuring spoon to help flatten it.IMG_5054

 

You can form your dough a few different ways. Regular (on the right), use a knife to make slits (on the left),
or you can even pinch the edges of the dough together to make a decorative pie crust.
Then chill in the fridge until the filling is ready and the oven is preheated.

pie crust1pie crust2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Filling

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl:IMG_4964

 

 Whisk up the ingredients:

IMG_5059IMG_4965

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the filling into the pie crust, brush edges of the crust with water (to prevent burning), 
bake @ 425 for 15 min, then 350 for 45 min.

IMG_5060

 

Done! Let the pie cool for 2 hours.

IMG_5075

 

You can put either whip cream or vanilla ice cream on top! I have even eaten a piece plain for breakfast
(that was a pie I made with honey instead of sugar though). 😉 

pie1

IMG_5085

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pot Roast with Homemade Gravy

This recipe turns out delicious every time. You can make it in the crock pot but I like to do it in the oven. Sometimes I make gravy with it but personally I prefer the broth. My husband likes gravy so to compromise we have it with gravy sometimes and sometimes just the broth. It is so good with fresh homemade bread or biscuits! I love putting this in the oven early in the day and then having dinner ready when it’s dinner time. I can get other things done while it’s cooking. And it’s so easy to put together. You could cook it with a good rub on it and not fry in the pan with flour first but this adds so much flavor. It’s worth it! 🙂

Pot Roast and Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 3 lb. roast
  • 2 TB coconut oil
  • about 1/2 cup flour (more or less depending on the size of roast)
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (yellow or red potatoes will work too but you will probably need 4 or 5 depending on the size – peeling optional)
  • salt & pepper (sprinkle desired amount)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, minced)

Directions:
Heat a frying pan with the oil. Cover the roast with the flour and place in the frying pan after the oil is hot. Brown both sides of the roast. Add 1 cup of the beef broth to the pan to deglaze the pan. You can let the roast sit on low heat while you peel and chop the potatoes and veggies. (If using a slow cooker just transfer the roast and all the juices to the crock pot and turn on low.) Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Put the roast into a roasting pan with all the juices. Add the remaining 2 cups of beef broth. Then add all the seasonings (on top of the roast and sprinkling around the entire pan). Surround the roast with the potatoes, veggies, & onion. Cover & cook for 3 hours (if using a slow cooker you can cook on low all day). It will be done when the meat pulls apart easily. This is great with homemade fresh bread or biscuits! And you can either leave the broth as is or use to make gravy. See below.

gravy

 

Making the Gravy: If you want to make gravy when the roast is done, I just take 1 cup of the broth (pan drippings) and pour into a small sauce pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and after it starts to bubble, whisk in 2 TB of flour. Just keep whisking until you get the right consistency. It’s so easy and good! I personally like the broth with the roast but my husband likes gravy, so we do gravy sometimes. 😉 Some people like to separate the fat out of the pan drippings and cook the fat in the pan with the flour, then add the broth. This is just extra work to me so I skip that step. It is kind-of hard to get the flour clumps to mix up but it works.

 

 

 

Ready to go in the oven!IMG_5028

 

 All done!IMG_5031